Voters choose council newcomers over incumbent in New Brighton

ELECTION 2017


Incumbent mayor wins second term

 

New Brighton’s city council race was more heated than others in the area, but it’s not due to a tragedy or a single controversial issue. 

It’s the intensity of personality and passion amongst council members that created such a hotly contested election. 

The mayoral race was relatively cool, though — incumbent Mayor Val Johnson received 53 percent of the vote, defeating challanger Sharon Doffing and winning her second term.

A central figure in the elevated passions on the New Brighton City Council has been council member Gina Bauman. She was the only incumbent in the race and out of the six candidates running for two open seats, Bauman came in third, receiving 19 percent of the vote.

The council will welcome two new members in January: Emily Dunsworth and Graeme Allen. Dunsworth received 25 percent of the vote. Allen followed right behind her with 24 percent. 

“I’m really excited to get to work,” said Dunsworth, who believes her election shows the city is focused on a message of building community. She said making sure residents feel their voices are heard is a top priority. 

While campaigning, Dunsworth said she heard concerns primarily around economic development, particularly on New Brighton’s $1.9 million offer to buy the Korean United Methodist Church and the Old Highway 8 reconstruction project. 

The main issues Allen said he heard about from voters while knocking on doors was a need for more affordable housing, especially for seniors. Allen believes he and the council can find funds from the state, county, the Metropolitan Council and nonprofits, and work with developers to build a senior facilities. Gathered funds could also be used to subsidize seniors’ housing costs, Allen said. 

His biggest short-term priority for New Brighton is finalizing implementation of the water filtration system to keep water in city aquifers clean. 

Allen said he is very grateful and humbled to have support from voters. He said his election speaks to New Brighton voters looking for new, younger voices. Above all, though, Allen added, voters want “folks not caught up in recent turmoil in the city.”

A potential example of said turmoil happened during an Oct. 3 New Brighton City Council. Passions were high — Johnson and Bauman faced off in a verbal confrontation over the idea of white privilege. 

Bauman has been the center of council controversy before — she was censured by the council in April of 2016. According to council members, Bauman went against council protocol in contacting the city attorney for personal advice. She was also stripped of her city liaison appointments.

Bauman’s term ends at the end of the year. She has served on the council since 2006. 

 Emily Dunsworth

 Graeme Allen


– Solomon Gustavo can be reached at sgustavo@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815. 

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